Every May, we celebrate National Mental Health Awareness Month to help increase knowledge about mental health. This is also a time to learn about the benefits of therapy and how to advocate for improved mental healthcare. In this blog, you can find out more about mental health stigma, and how people can advocate to change the way we think and talk about therapy and mental health. The Family Connections Therapy team is here to help. If you want to learn more about therapy or work with a therapist, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
What Type of Thinking Leads to Mental Health Stigma?
Like other types of stigma, the negative connotations surrounding mental health and therapy are the result of deep, systemic misunderstanding and bias. Some of the inaccurate thinking that leads to stigma about mental health include:
- People with mental illness are dangerous. In recent years, true crime has become very popular. Often, perpetrators of crimes present in shows as mentally ill and dangerous. We’ve all heard the statistics before, but the truth is that people with mental illness are much more likely to be victims of violence than they are to become violent criminals.
- People with mental illness are lazy or lying. Mental illness is often thought of as an excuse for poor behavior or for not working. Mental illnesses impact people in a multitude of ways. While some people with a diagnosis easily work or participate in activities, other people with the same diagnosis will struggle. This doesn’t mean they’re lying or lazy.
- People with mental illness aren’t trying hard enough. People who don’t have mental illness often think that those with mental illness just need to try harder not to be sad, anxious, etc. Obviously, there’s no magic amount of effort that will snap people out of depression, a panic attack, or anxiety spiral any more than you can just force yourself to get better if you had the flu. However, just like the flu and other physical health concerns, there are treatments (therapy) that can help, and it’s okay to seek them out!
- People with mental illness should deal with it privately. The number one contributor to stigma is silence. The more we talk about therapy and mental health, the more it becomes okay to safely talk about and receive therapy.
How Can We Reduce Stigma Related to Mental Health?
The two most important ways to reduce stigma related to mental health are to learn more about it (increase awareness) and make it okay to talk about without fear of negative repercussions or stigma. You can also support research and outreach programs financially or through volunteering. Don’t forget the most important way that allies and advocates can support people who struggle with mental health – listen. You don’t need to “fix” your loved ones with mental health struggles, but just being there to listen to them without judgement can make a big difference.
Is Reduced Mental Health Stigma an Unexpected Benefit of the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has filled our lives with stress and concern. It’s no surprise that more people than ever before are seeking therapy, but many are also talking openly about their need for extra support. This unintended positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be permanent. However, it’s certainly encouraging to see more people talking about therapy.
Want to Work with a Therapist?
Therapy has numerous benefits, from helping you improve your communication skills for better professional performance to understanding your own attachment style or “love language” so you can be a better partner and a whole range of life’s challenges and struggles. You don’t need a specific diagnosis, but we can support people who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other concerns. At Family Connections Therapy, we’re happy to work with children, adults, couples, and families to learn, grow, solve problems, and live fulfilling lives. If you’re interested in working with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule a consultation. We look forward to speaking with you soon.